During the recent Red Sox Winter Weekend, at least three players debuted new numbers on their backs. All three went back to the numbers they wore in college, and they're all interesting in their own way.
First up is Chris Sale. He switched from the 49 he wore with the White Sox to the number 41 he wore in college. It's interesting because the White Sox do not currently have a #41 on their roster. So, if Sale really wanted to have some continuity with the number he had in college, he could have done that pretty easily I'm guessing. (Maybe cut up every other number 41 jersey until they assign it to him.) He said he did it in deference to Tim Wakefield. Did the Red Sox tell him to do that? Are they retiring Wake's number? Did I miss an announcement? Or, has Sale always wanted to do this (really) but just never saw the opportunity? It's interesting.
Jackie Bradley Jr also switched back to the number 19 he wore in
college. This is interesting because it's the third number Bradley has worn with the Sox. He started with number 44, but graciously gave it to Jake Peavy when he joined the team. No wonder he gave it up so easily. Clearly he was just waiting until Koji left the team and he could grab 19.
Andrew Benintendi is more surprising. He also switched to his college number, 16. It's interesting because Benintendi just joined the team, and was given number 40. I guess that he's now an established player, and can rip number 16 away from Devin Marrero. But, I wonder if the Sox are annoyed about sales of his #40 merchandise? Lots of people probably have brand new gear of the super-rookie. At least some people with a Jackie Bradley #25 have had it for a couple years now. The 'Tendi stuff is a few months old at a max. Of course, from my perspective, the ability to buy jerseys of current players on clearance is a wonderful opportunity.
So, clearly, the uniform number is important to players. But, it always surprises me just how much. It wasn't enough of an impression for 'Tendi to keep the first uniform number he wore at Fenway Park? Or, for Bradley to keep the number he wore on his back as he established himself as a star player? I think if it were me, those numbers would be the important ones. But, Bradley was willing to wait it out for years for his number. Benintendi took the first opportunity he had. They made a different call than I think I would have made.
But, I guess I'm not a major league player.
What would you have done?
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